Weddings at Sea by Mike Pickup

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FED up with the hassle and expense of organising a traditional wedding? Then why not combine a stress-free, affordable wedding and luxury honeymoon and get married at sea.

It’s getting more and more popular. Princess Cruises now organise around 1500 a year whilst Valerie Brizuela Mahon of Celebrity Cruises says “The big trend we see from couples at the moment is the desire to set their nuptials apart from any other wedding and create a one-off that reflects them.”

Performing marriages is one of the Captain’s most pleasurable duties. Dedicated staff, both ashore and on board, organise the event for you. All you have to do is to decide what you want, then relax and enjoy days and nights of pure luxury while they make sure it all happens.

Weddings take place on a sea day when the ship is in international waters, so choose your ocean. Perhaps the Caribbean on an island hopping trip, or the Pacific on a Hawaiian cruise; how about the Far East taking in Singapore, Hong Kong or Japan. The Med is always popular and another favourite is the iconic transatlantic voyage between Southampton and New York on Cunard’s elegant ocean liner Queen Mary 2.

Whichever ocean you choose, the wedding officially takes place where the ship is registered, perhaps Malta or Bermuda, so your marriage will be formally recognised in the UK.

Ships have a number of locations for the ceremony. The chapel guarantees some privacy, but perhaps on deck in the sunshine is more fun. It certainly makes for some unusual wedding photographs. The choice of venue may also depend upon the number of guests, but if you decide to keep it to just the two of you then a couple of the ship’s senior officers will be honoured to act as your witnesses.

The wedding package, typically costing between £1200 and £2400 in addition to the cruise, will include music and a bouquet for the bride with a matching boutonnière for the groom. The ship will supply a photographer and there will be champagne and a cake. You’ll also get a commemorative wedding certificate, as your real one may take a short time to arrive. In addition you can choose to have a formal reception for your guests, a party in the disco or perhaps a romantic dinner for two in one of the ship’s many restaurants -the choice is yours.

Each cruise line also has its own special take on the event. Both P&O (www.pocruises.com) and Cunard (www.cunard.co.uk) offer a complimentary pressing service for wedding attire, and if you book a fly-cruise with P&O you can take an additional 5kg suitcase each. On Cunard, famous for its luxury White Star service, the bride is escorted to the ceremony by bellmen in their traditional scarlet uniforms.

Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) offers dinner for two at a speciality restaurant and four 8″ x 10″ framed photos, On Celebrity Cruises (www.celebritycruises.co.uk) you can get married on the top deck lawn and expect rose petals on your bed at turn-down.

Royal Caribbean (www.royalcaribbean.co.uk) include breakfast in bed when you choose, whilst Norwegian Cruise Lines (www.ncl.co.uk) include wine, dinner for two in Le Bistro and canapés and chocolate covered strawberries in your stateroom.

Andy Harmer, Cruise Line Industry Association’s director for UK and Ireland said: “Those who choose to tie the knot on a cruise can rest assured that they and their guests will receive impeccable service and the finest dining, combined with being able to travel to incredible destinations.”

What are you waiting for!

by Mike Pickup

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